How To Get Scrappy And Avoid Costly Leave Management Missteps

“We can’t afford not to.” It’s a simple phrase that in today’s macroeconomic climate carries with it rather complicated implications. If you’re like many People Operations professionals, you’re now having to navigate budget spending under the magnifying glass of a leadership team who have taken a sudden interest in the way in which you allocate funds to achieve company objectives.

There are a few circumstances where overlooking gaps and inefficiencies in your processes become such a risk that not investing in a better solution becomes too costly and problematic to ignore. If you’ve ever had an “oh sh!t” moment with your organization’s current leave of absence management process, then you’re all too familiar with the risks associated with getting leave wrong and how a better way to manage leave is something you can’t afford to put off any longer.

When budgets tighten, People Ops must get scrappy and sophisticated in order to solve the LOA management pitfalls your organization is exposed to.

What are some common leave of absence missteps?

Not adhering to the laws: This seems obvious, but in many instances People Ops pros aren’t aware of the laws they may or may not be violating. Are you determining FMLA eligibility for your employees and notifying them of their rights? Do you have a pulse on what the latest leave laws are in the states your employees work? They’re always changing after all. Staying up to date with the latest laws and adhering to them is a challenge many struggle with, and the costs of getting it wrong can cost $78,000 on average to defend (of course if things go south it can be much more expensive for your organization).

Manager mishaps: If you think it’s tricky to get your arms around all of the leave laws, your employees’ managers are even less prepared. Uninformed managers may threaten an employee’s job security when a leave is job-protected, or they may not understand or respect the rights of an employee while on leave, all of which can lead to costly violations. Can you afford not to get it right?

Inconsistent treatment: Stigmas surrounding leave, such as treating two employees differently who request a leave of absence based on their sex, race, age, or other characteristic protected by law. Likewise, a manager “not believing” their reason for needing a leave can create more than costly turnover and decreased productivity, you could potentially have a discrimination lawsuit on your hands. Can you afford not to get it right?

Lack of support: People Ops professionals have a lot on their plate as is, yet still, it’s an employer’s responsibility to provide the necessary support and accommodations for an employee taking a leave of absence. Has a re-boarding plan been created for when the employee returns to work? Are you able to help each employee consistently when they have questions about complicated state benefits forms, and then, do you have the bandwidth to track and monitor their timely completion? Not doing so could mean your employees miss out on pay, and your organization misses out on serious financial reimbursement from various state programs. Can you afford not to get it right?

Poor tracking and documentation: Google sheets and folders are great for many things, but when it comes to tracking and documenting leaves of absence they have major limitations. Leaves may start and stop, they may be partially paid by state benefits programs for several weeks of the leave duration and partially paid by the company, or unpaid, the rest. They include personal employee information and documents like medical certifications. Having a non-secure tracking and documentation system leaves you exposed to compliance risks and payment inconsistencies. Can you afford not to get it right?

How to make leave management economical

It’s one thing to understand the costly risks of getting leave wrong, it’s another thing to try to mitigate the risks effectively and efficiently within a confined budget.  Whether it’s cashing in on wage reimbursements from state benefits programs, improving employee satisfaction and turnover rates, or feeling compliance confidence, you simply can’t afford not to get LOA management right.

If you aren’t equipped with the tools or bandwidth (or desire…we get it, leave isn’t your favorite thing in the world) to give leave management the love it needs, there are 3rd-party solutions that are economical, empathetic, and effective. They can keep your leave tracking and documentation under one roof, automate your least-favorite to-dos like FMLA designations and payroll, and can empathetically support your employees with everything from questions about state benefits to being a warm human heart when a leave goes sideways and getting it wrong could have traumatic consequences.

Not only can these leave management solutions make People Operations operate smoothly in the face of ever-increasing leave requests, they can save you some serious scratch to the point where you can tell leadership, “Can we afford not to?”

About Tilt

Tilt is leading the charge in all things leave of absence management through easy-to-use tech and human touch. Since 2017, our proprietary platform and Empathy Warriors have been helping customers make leave not suck by eliminating administrative burdens, keeping companies compliant, and providing a truly positive and supportive leave of absence experience for their people.

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